I am not much of a fan of sports games, but I do respect them as a genre. I get the fun behind playing as various athletes and competing against friends to see who’s the best, but I can only understand this fun rather than partake in it. What I can appreciate in this genre, however, is the music.
The relationship between music and sports games is more intertwined than in any other genre in the video game industry. Part of this comes from the fact that in sport games, the time you spend away from actually playing the game is confined to a series of menus navigating which players you have on your team, the team you want to play as, which arena the game is played in and many other things. So with the time one spends in menus, it’s nice to have good music to listen to.
“NBA Live 2014” boasts a soundtrack filled with many up-and-coming artists, such as Action Bronson, Kid Ink, Kat Dahlia, and many more artists from the hip-hop, pop and dubstep genres. While these genres are somewhat typical of sports games, the choice of using artists who are a little more under the radar rather than those in the mainstream gives this game a certain edge to a genre that is largely dominated by the 2k series.
Comparing the two games’ track lists, it is obvious that the 2k series has gotten lazy with songs on its latest installment’s soundtrack that were one point or another were on some arbitrary top 40 lists for a certain number of weeks. But “NBA Live 2014” hits home with new songs and new artists such as Richmond-born artist IAMSU! with “Goin’ Up” and Las Vegas rapper Dizzy Wright’s “BTT.” This game brings a whole new freshness with its soundtrack that gives me hope that finally there will be some competition in the basketball video game game genre, just as the competition of first-person shooters came back with the release of “Battlefield 3.”
While the “NBA Live 2014” soundtrack seems to be firing on all cylinders, however, this does not tell us anything about how the game will actually play. One feature that might separate it from the pack is its release as an next-gen exclusive, meaning it will be released only for the PS4 and the Xbox One, offering greater capacity in the realm of hardware and software.
Hopefully, this emphasis on the next generation of consoles will bring the game to a firm pedestal as a good basketball game to pick up for the holidays, but that point can only be made when the game is released Tuesday.